My spiritual journey began at home much like it does for most people. I grew up with a Roman Catholic father and a Pentecostal mother. Oddly enough, neither of my parents enforced, or followed for that matter, super religious practices. As a child I attended the occasional trip to a family friends church and the occasional baptism. I tagged along mostly because I had to. But, like I said, my parents never completely enforced a religion or doctrine at home. They had it in their mind to let my brother and I choose what we believed in.
Now, while that was mostly true, I did not escape my childhood unscathed by some of the core beliefs that Christianity bestowed. More to the point, I would later find that by virtue of my parents Christian backgrounds I would adopt more of their core beliefs than I had anticipated. For now, however, I will digress on the subject of my adopted core beliefs and continue my focus on the beginning of my spiritual journey.
When I got to high school, I ended up joining the church of a band mate of mine. It was not too long before I became a full disciple of this Pentecostal church. I let myself get completely immersed with the missions proceedings. I attended the Wednesday prayer group, Thursday worship rehearsal, Friday bible study, Saturday youth group, and the Sunday service. With all of this exposure, I began to experience the spiritual aspects of the Pentecostal religion. I experienced things like goose bumps during praise and worship, the emotional tears of remorse for my sins during prayer, and the baptism of the holy spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. Yes, I said it, I spoke in tongues.
Despite my fickle recollection how this baptism occurred, one thing I know for certain is that it felt extremely real. What I remember is as follows: It happened while at a retreat with my church. During praise and worship, the altar was opened up for those who wanted to receive this baptism. I got brave and went up and spent some time worshiping with my hands elevated in stance of surrender. One of the deacons approached me and placed his hands on my head and back. As he started praying upon me, that is when it happened. I quickly sank into a deeper state of prayer and then suddenly I began to mumble. I then collapsed onto the ground in seizure-like fits while muttering the voice of the Holy Ghost. And there you have it, I was baptized by the Holy Spirit.
In the Pentecostal faith it is believed that when someone is baptized by the Holy Spirit, certain “gifts” come along for the ride. After my seizure, I got up in tears and began walking towards one of the girls from my church who was standing up at her seat with the others in worship. As I approached her, I felt compelled to speak something in her ear. I felt like I was floating towards her. Finally, while grabbing both of her shoulders, I began to speak. The unfortunate part here is that I don’t quite remember what I said. All I remember is that what I said caused her to cry.
The following day, my pastor and his deacon called me into a private room. I was shocked when he began to gently reprimand me for speaking in a fashion that was not in accordance with the “order” demanded in Spirit-guided proceedings (Referring to the Holy Spirit, of course). In other words, he suggested that I was reckless in my approaching this girl without a deacon or he, the pastor, present. Surprisingly, he then began to explain the conversation he had with her earlier that morning. She explained to him that I was completely accurate in what I said. The pastor looked at me square in the eye and said that I had displayed my “gift” when I spoke to her. Apparently I had received the gift of prophesying.
To be honest, I thought this was neat. Although ego-driven, I felt some sort of status and empowerment. People revered the prophets and what they had done for humanity and now I was one of them. But then the reality set in and I got a bit scared. How did I speak in tongues and receive a message? How could I have said something to the girl standing with the congregation and not even remember saying it? Ultimately, I don’t know. I do remember thinking that this would be the height of my spiritual practice. What else could I experience? I could assure you now, however, this baptism and prophesying merely scratched the surface of what I would later begin to experience.